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London’s Cycle Superhighway 3: safer-cycling from Barking in the east, to Lancaster Gate in the west

Cycle Superhighway 3 (CS3), also known as the East-West Cycle Superhighway, takes you from Barking in the east, to Lancaster Gate in the west via central London.

Cycle Superhighways are a great way to cycle around the city. These dedicated cycle routes often keep cyclists and cars separate, and have specially designed junctions to make it easier and safer for everyone.

This particular route is a great example of exactly that, with the vast majority of the route segregated from both pedestrians and vehicles, and specially adapted junctions to help you cut across the main roads.

From the September 2019, TfL have started referring to Cycle Superhighways (main routes) and Quietways (routes via backstreets) as ‘Cycleways’.

Newer routes like Cycleway 6 already take the new name, and Cycle Superhighway 3 keeps its name (for now at least).

Cycle Superhighway 3 Map

Here’s a map of the safer-cycling route:

Cycle Superhighway 3 Route

The route provides a mostly traffic-free path across the whole of central London, and is approximately 14 miles (22km) long. Here are the highlights from east to west.

Barking to the City

It starts out in Barking, where you ride on cycle paths alongside the A13. At Blackwall, you leave the A13 behind and join a collection of quiet back routes, which bring you out on Poplar High Street.

Photo by Bit Cloud on Unsplash

Just to the south of Popular High Street is Canary Wharf, which you’ll see from your bike.

Once you’ve reached the end of Poplar High Street, dedicated routes take you across busy roads, past Westferry and on to Limehouse Causeway, and then Narrow Street.

From Narrow Street, you could leave Cycle Superhighway 3 and join the canal tow path alongside Limehouse Basin, either continuing to the River Lea (heads north to Tottenham) or Regent’s Canal (heads north-west toward Victoria Park, Stratford).

The City to Cannon Street

You leave Narrow Street to cross St. James’ Gardens, cross Butcher Row and continue down Cable Street into central London. You use a segregated cycle lane for the duration of Cable Street.

Cable Street becomes Royal Mint Street, cutting across busy Mansell Street at a special traffic-lit junction for cyclists to cross.

You go on to join the main ‘middle-section’ of the Cycle Superhighway, which is a wide bi-directional segregated cycle path.

Photo by Joseph Gilbey on Unsplash

As you do, you’ll see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge to your left (if travelling East-West).

Cannon Street to Westminster

Once you’ve passed the Tower, you continue on the segregated cycle path alongside Lower Thames Street (right next to the river).

You pass under the approach to London Bridge and Cannon Street Station.

Having just passed Blackfriars Station and Bridge, you’ll notice that CS3 and Cycleway 6 (C6) meet at a dedicated link section.

C6 crosses Blackfriars Bridge, which you’ve just gone under, so there’s a small link section so that you can easily get between the two (it’s a bit of a hill!).

You’re now right alongside the River Thames, cycling along the Victoria Embankment, still in this main middle-section.

Westminster to Lancaster Gate

Now it’s time for everyone’s least favourite bit, and another of London’s famous landmarks.

You arrive at Westminster Bridge, where a slightly confusing junction takes you west, away from the Bridge, and toward Parliament Square, where of course you’ll see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

Cyclists needn’t cycle around the Square, instead there are traffic light controlled junctions which take you straight across the north side of the Square, and into Birdcage Walk.

Photo by Eva Dang on Unsplash

More landmarks to come, St James’ Park to your right as you approach Buckingham Palace.

Then you’re heading up Constitution Hill alongiside Green Park.

At the end, you cross straight through the middle of busy junction at Hyde Park Corner (again all safe, controlled junctions), directly passing Wellington Arch as you do.

Then it’s into Hyde Park, where South Carriage Drive takes you from the east end of the park to the middle.

The park is actually Kensington Gardens in the west half and Hyde Park in the east half.

Just before you turn to head north at the west end of Hyde Park, you will see the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall.

Photo by Matthew Waring | Photo by Igor Ferreira

Then, it’s north between the two parks on West Carriage Drive, across Bayswater Road and up Westbourne Street.

The route then ends between Lancaster Gate and Paddington stations.

Head south instead at the memorial, and find Exhibition Road, home to the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum and Imperial College London.

Both roads through Hyde Park can be avoided by cutting through the park itself, instead of tracking the roads that run through it. But be careful, not all paths in the park are for cycling.

I couldn’t recommend Cycle Superhighway 3 more, whether you’re a daily commuter or occasional leisure cyclist. Especially since the connection with Cycleway 6, and the desire to avoid the tube as we head back to work.

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